Parts Used & Where Grown
This large thistle-like plant is native to the regions of southern Europe, North Africa, and the Canary Islands. The leaves of the plant are used medicinally. However, the roots and the immature flower heads may also contain beneficial compounds.1
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For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
500–1,000 mg daily
Artichoke leaf extract has been found to lower total and LDL-cholesterol levels and may increase HDL-cholesterol levels.
(Cynara scolymus) leaf extract has been shown to reduce total and LDL-cholesterol levels, as well as triglyceride levels, and this effect may be related to artichoke flavonoids. A meta-analysis of findings from nine randomized controlled trials with a combined total of 702 participants found artichoke leaf extract reduced total and LDL-cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels, without impacting HDL-cholesterol levels. Nevertheless, in an uncontrolled clinical trial in 20 people with depressed HDL-cholesterol levels and moderately elevated total cholesterol levels, 250 mg of artichoke leaf extract twice daily for 60 days increased HDL-cholesterol levels. A trial with 92 overweight subjects with mildly elevated cholesterol levels found 500 mg artichoke leaf extract twice daily for eight weeks reduced total and LDL-cholesterol and increased HDL-cholesterol levels compared with placebo. Another placebo controlled trial with 55 participants found artichoke leaf extract, at 600 mg per day for eight weeks, improved lipid levels as well as glucose metabolism in overweight individuals with high blood glucose levels.
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
500 to 1,000 mg cynarin in a standardized herbal extract three times per day
Extracts of artichoke have been repeatedly shown in research to be beneficial for people with indigestion.
Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production. As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.
, in addition to being an edible plant, is a mild bitter. Extracts of artichoke have been repeatedly shown in double-blind research to be beneficial for people with indigestion. Artichoke is particularly useful when the problem is lack of bile production by the liver. Extracts providing 500–1,000 mg per day of cynarin, the main active constituent of artichoke, are recommended by doctors.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Refer to label instructions
In a preliminary study of people with irritable bowel syndrome who took an artichoke leaf extract daily for two months, 26% reported an improvement in symptoms.
In a preliminary study of people with irritable bowel syndrome who took an leaf extract daily for two months, 26% reported an improvement in symptoms. Because no placebo group was used in this study and because irritable bowel syndrome has a high rate of response to placebo, additional research is needed to confirm this report. The amount of artichoke leaf used in the study was 320 or 640 mg per day of a 1:5 standardized extract.
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
The artichoke is one of the world’s oldest medicinal plants. The ancient Egyptians placed great value on the plant—it is clearly seen in drawings involving fertility and sacrifice. Moreover, this plant was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a digestive aid. In 16th century Europe, the artichoke was favored as a food by royalty.2
How It Works
How It Works
Artichoke leaves contain a wide number of active constituents, including cynarin, 1,3 dicaffeoylquinic acid, 3-caffeoylquinic acid, and scolymoside.3 The choleretic (bile stimulating) action of the plant has been well documented in a controlled trial involving a small sample of healthy volunteers.4 After the administration of 1.92 grams of standardized artichoke extract directly into the duodenum, liver bile flow increased significantly. This choleretic effect has led to the popular use of artichoke extract in Europe for the treatment of mild indigestion—particularly following a meal high in fat. In an uncontrolled clinical trial with 553 people suffering from non-specific digestive disorders (including indigestion), 320–640 mg of a standardized artichoke extract taken three times per day was found to reduce nausea, abdominal pain, constipation, and flatulence in over 70% of the study participants.5
The standardized extract has also been used to treat high cholesterol and triglycerides. In one preliminary trial6 and one controlled trial,7 use of a standardized artichoke extract was found to lower cholesterol and triglycerides significantly when taken in amounts ranging from 900 to 1,920 mg per day. One preliminary trial failed to find any effect.8
While scientists are not certain how artichoke leaves lower cholesterol, test tube studies have suggested that the action may be due to an inhibition of cholesterol synthesis and/or the increased elimination of cholesterol because of the plant’s choleretic action.9 In test tube studies, the flavonoids from the artichoke (e.g., luteolin) have been shown to prevent LDL-cholesterol oxidation—an effect that may reduce risk of atherosclerosis.10
How to Use It
The suggested adult amount of the standardized leaf extract is 300–640 mg three times daily for a minimum of six weeks.11 Alternatively, if a standardized extract is not available, the amount of the crude, dried leaves is 1–4 grams, three times a day.12
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Interactions with Medicines
At the recommended amount and according to the German Commission E Monograph,13 there are no known side effects or drug interactions. The use of artichoke is not recommended for those who are allergic to artichokes and other members of the Compositae (e.g., daisy) family. In addition, those who have any obstruction of the bile duct (e.g., as a result of gallstones) should not employ this plant therapeutically. The plant’s safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding has not been established.
1. Brand N. Cynara scolymus L.—The artichoke. Zeitschrift Phytother 1990;11:169-75.
2. Brand N. Cynara scolymus L.—The artichoke. Zeitschrift Phytother 1990;11:169-75.
3. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 42-3.
4. Kirchhoff R, Beckers C, Kirchhoff GM, et al. Increase in choleresis by means of artichoke extract. Phytomedicine 1994;1:107-15.
5. Fintelmann V. Antidyspeptic and lipid-lowering effect of artichoke leaf extract. Zeitschrift fur Allgemeinmed 1996;72(Suppl 2):3-19.
6. Fintelmann V. Antidyspeptic and lipid-lowering effect of artichoke leaf extract. Zeitschrift fur Allgemeinmed 1996;72(Suppl 2):3-19.
7. Englisch W, Beckers C, Unkauf M, et al. Efficacy of artichoke dry extract in patients with hyperlipoproteinemia. Arzneimittelforschung 2000;50:260-5.
8. Heckers H, Dittmar K, Schmahl FW, Huth K. Inefficiency of cynarin as therapeutic regimen in familial type II hyperlipoproteinemia. Atherosclerosis 1977;26:249-53.
9. Gebhardt R. New experimental results in the action of artichoke leaf extract. Zeitschrift fur Allgemeinmed 1996;72:20-3.
10. Brown JE, Rice-Evans CA. Luteolin rich artichoke extract protects low density lipoprotein from oxidation in vitro. Free Radical Research 1998;29:247-55.
11. Fintelmann V. Antidyspeptic and lipid-lowering effect of artichoke leaf extract. Zeitschrift fur Allgemeinmed 1996;72:1-19.
12. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 36.
13. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 84-5.
Last Review: 06-08-2015
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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2023.